Actors: Vincent D'Onofrio, Sean Flanery, Thomas Jane, Chris Marquette, Wes Chatham
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Producers: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Subhash Dhar
Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Spanish, English
Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Thai, Spanish
Region: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 1, 2015
Run Time: 101 minutes
Indian films typically tend to be a lengthier than most Hollywood films, which may be part of the reason the logic of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s first American-made film feels so broken. Adapted from his 1989 Hindi crime classic, Parinda, Broken Horses is nearly an hour shorter in length, but somehow still feels like too much time spent on derivative material. Despite a plot that feels manipulatively melodramatic and unreasonably contrived, there is raw energy in the action which could have made these flaws forgivable if it weren’t for the tragedy that is the bland dialogue.
Dropping the audience into the violent story without an understanding of what is happening, Broken Horses begins with the death of a father and the diverging roads taken by his two sons following the event. Younger brother Jacob (Anton Yelchin) is given the opportunity to pursue his passion of music by auditioning for the Philharmonic Orchestra in
but returns home to see his mentally handicapped brother, Buddy (Chris
Marquette). Along with making it unclear that Buddy is handicapped in the
earlier sequences, rather than just a cheerful kid with a kind demeanor, Broken Horses has an atrocious opening
that includes unexplained violence and far too many plot holes to dismiss so
early on in the narrative. This is carried into the main portion of the film,
which has Jacob returning home to finally discover the world his brother has
been pulled into. New York
How is it possible that Jacob never knew what his brother was doing? Did he leave home too early to see what was happening? Did Buddy never mention how he made his living in the many letters they supposedly sent to each other? These questions are dangling threads in the narrative, threatening to tear apart the entire logic of the film if pulled at too hard, and the dialogue does nothing to help smooth the inconsistencies. Although the movie develops the style and structure of a modern western, the narrative may have made more sense if Chopra had simply followed through on making an actual period western.
Realizing that Buddy is being used by a local gang boss (Tom Sizemore) to do his dirty work in a war with a Mexican drug cartel, Jacob makes the decision to infiltrate the gang to save his brother. While this plot twist is absurd, it is not nearly as frustrating as the lack of planning which goes into Jacob’s scheme. As things go awry and loyalties are tested, it leads to inevitable shootouts and an explosive resolution. Unfortunately, little feels at stake and it is difficult to care about the outcome when so much of the emotion feels forced upon the audience. Somewhere in here is a decent story, but Broken Horses takes all the wrong approaches in telling it.
The DVD includes 13 behind-the-scenes featurettes, making it seem like more attention went into the archiving of the filmmaking process than the actual adaptation. Still, if you are a fan of crime/gangster narratives and have the ability to shut off your brain for 100 minutes, there are worse films to watch than Broken Horses.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance: 4/10